Welcome to SND election season

We’re pleased to bring you two great options for the office of secretary/treasurer in 2015: Frank Mina of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Douglas Okasaki of the Gulf News in Dubai. Mina and Okasaki will be on the ballot going out to all SND members on Sept. 1.

Each year SND selects new officers: the secretary/treasurer, vice president and president. Winners are announced at the annual workshop. The candidates:

For the position of SND president:
• Lee Steele, design editor, Hearst Connecticut Newspapers. (@leesteele)

For the position of SND vice president:
• Sara Quinn, teaches visual journalism, social media, writing forms, leadership and multimedia at the Poynter Institute. (@saraquinn)

For the position of SND secretary/treasurer:
• Frank Mina, deputy managing editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and SND Region 2 (Western U.S.) director.

• Douglas Okasaki, senior designer at the Gulf News in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and SND Region 20 (Africa and Middle East) director.

There will be a write-in option for each office. Bios and mission statements from the candidates are below.

How the election will play out

  • Voting begins: Monday, Sept. 1
  • How and who votes: The election is conducted electronically (SND members will receive an email). Voting is open to all members.
  • Voting deadline: Voting ends at midnight on Thursday, Sept. 25.
  • The results: Results will be announced at the SND Annual Workshop and Exhibition in Frankfurt, on Friday, Sept. 26.
  • Lapsed or non-members can renew or join before the ballot is issued in order to vote. Renew your membership here.
  • Questions? Contact Executive Director Stephen Komives at
    [email protected]
    . The SND bylaws governing the election process is here.


Frank Mina is running for secretary/treasurer of SND.
Frank Mina is running for secretary/treasurer of SND.

Frank Mina


From print to mobile to wearable, the universe of news design seems to be expanding ever faster, and with each new product comes new design problems to resolve. It is in these moments of rapid change when an organization like the Society for News Design can be most valuable, not only to its members, but to the greater design community. I believe SND has an opportunity to broaden its audience, spark conversation and facilitate the creation of design solutions. There is an entire community of digital designers, developers and students that SND needs to do better reaching.

SND has already found success with this approach in the #SNDMakes event. The weekend event brought together designers, developers, product managers, students and editors to collaborate and prototype solutions to digital design problems. My goal is to have more of these prototyping events organized to expand SND’s reach and broaden its appeal to a wider audience of designers.

While expanding its footprint in digital design, SND must strengthen its print design training as well. SND has a strong tradition in providing courses relevant to news design professionals and students. It is time to provide more of these training opportunities to our members.


Frank Mina is the deputy managing editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, overseeing the newsroom’s visuals teams and web producers. Since joining The Chronicle in 1997, he has been recognized by SND and other organizations for his outstanding work as a designer. He was part of The Chronicle’s design team which launched the paper’s award-winning redesign, and later led the redesign of the Hearst Corporation’s largest daily newspapers. Most recently his focus has been on leading the product team for sfchronicle.com.

Frank has served as SND regional director for the western United States both in 2007 and currently. He has organized multiple Quick Courses and training opportunities, and has judged the Best of Newspaper Design Creative Competition twice and has often served as a facilitator at the competition . Frank has a B.A. in journalism from Humboldt State University.

Douglas Okasaki is running for secretary/treasurer of SND.
Douglas Okasaki is running for secretary/treasurer of SND.

Douglas Okasaki
Douglas Okasaki, senior designer at the Gulf News in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and SND Region 20 (Africa and Middle East) director.

His website can be found here


This is a crucial moment for the Society. We are living a watershed moment not only for SND but also in our professional lives. If SND wants to survive, now is the time for action.

SND is running smoothly thanks to the time and efforts of our volunteer professionals, but we are mostly moved by their passion for the organization and their time.

Thanks to the hard work of leadership and especially executive director Stephen Komives, SND survives within a streamlined budget, that is a positive point, but to make it more productive in the future and reinvigorate the Society it is important to increase revenue and improve SND’s financial status now. Most of SND’s leadership come from design but we now need to be marketing specialists, financial advisers and brand managers to reach our goals.


1) Reinvigorate SND’s Brand

SND’s brand is not only a print experience. It is necessary to change this perception, to include print but also for other delivery news platforms: tablet, mobile, desktop and whatever comes in the future. We need to identify and leverage market opportunities and research, and invest in PR for SND to increase its media industry presence in the U.S. and internationally.

2) Creating Revenue

Reinforcing SND’s brand will make it easier to raise funds and create partnerships.

There are many ways to raise money online: digital fundraising, setting up a regular donation site, sponsorship support and selling merchandise through an online shop.

Raising more money and generating more income will allow more investment in our mission. Some ideas on how to use that money include the improvement and innovation of our website and intensifying workshops, quick courses and training in the U.S. and worldwide through SND or partnerships with other organizations.

3) Membership Value

We need to increase the portfolio of advantages for members, including

  • Partnering with design schools, companies and stores where SND members can get discounts.
  • Reviving SND Magazine for members at least twice a year in print and online.
  • Reviving The Update journal for members, even as a pdf download online.
  • Rethinking training and what is important to invest in. With current technology we can via YouTube; it is necessary to add real value to the training menu.
  • Closing some content areas in the website for members only. (Downloads, conference movie)
  • Increasing SND activities for members only (the SND book cover competition, for example.) Why not create a feedback mechanism only for members from SND competition judges?

4) USA and International

“The mission of the Society for News Design is to enhance communication around the world through excellence in visual journalism”.

The Society is only one — worldwide.

The fact is the international membership is growing and while membership in the U.S. is still the majority, it is shrinking. So it is necessary to have a better balance in SND’s attention. The collaboration between different SND chapters, SND countries regions and leadership is fundamental for the better communication and worldwide engagement.

For SND to survive we need both the U.S. and international community, and both have specific aspects and necessities. With this in mind we need to plan to survey the needs and expectations from each community.

5) More Orientation Toward New Technology

There is no doubt the future is online. So SND needs to focus on training for online and other platforms by researching a list of courses necessary for the new skill demand. SND must engage and partner with experts and professionals in these new technologies in the U.S. and Internationally.

SND should invest in a new website where we translate the recent advancements and technology.

Every year the Best of Digital Design becomes stronger; thanks to Ryan Sparrow for this achievement. Special attention for the digital competition is required. The digital competition will also help SND create a professional specialists database for future workshops with the winners list. If SND highlights, interviews and spotlights the winners; it can add more value for the competition.

6) Competitions

The Creative Competition is SND’s crowning achievement.

There is no doubt that is the largest and biggest competition of its kind. We will plan to insert the competition in the “Book of Records” as the biggest print and online creative competition. This title will be useful as a marketing tool and add more value for a competition that already is a success.

A regional competition is a very positive and efficient way to brand SND in the region and give opportunity to local designers to spotlight their work. The incredible quantity of work in the official SND Creative Competition is enormous and sometimes discourages the future participation of international entries. Creating regional competitions will give opportunity to showcase their work in a less competitive environment. Many of our international chapters and regions are already doing it.

We also need to make the SND book available for tablet as we did for The Best of Middle East with interviews and interactives.

7) SND Annual Workshop & Exhibition

The SND workshop is ambitious and grandiose, with simultaneous speakers in separate sessions at the same time. This is amazing but I’m not sure about the efficiency and cost at this time and I think SND will have to review the expenses. The networking with real people is what makes the difference, and new alternatives for the conference model can be researched. Webinar and web conference can be useful for the Society and we should explore it.


The first time I set foot in a newsroom, I was a high schooler visiting the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper in my country. In this visit I thought to myself, ‘I want to work here,’ and a few years later my dream was realized; I was working in the design department of one of the most influential and competitive newspapers in Brazil. In that place I learned how to be competitive in a positive way…

What’s the positive way?

Let your work speak for itself; be respected for your talent and nothing more.

That was only the start. In Brazil I worked in Editora Abril (Sao Paulo), O Globo (Rio de Janeiro), A Tarde (Salvador) and for seven years as Art Editor for the online news provider UOL as a webdesigner.

Outside Brazil I worked in Tokyo (Japan) in theInternational Press newspaper and, thanks to SND Job Board, at the Gulf News in Dubai (UAE) now.

My work has been recognized by SND for more than eight consecutive years including awards for publications from Brazil, Japan and the first in UAE. This year my pages won 25 Awards of Excellence at SND35.

I am the winner of the Reuters Foundation for graphics with travel and internship in Reuters graphics department and tour in the top London newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times, The Independent and Sunday Times. I am also honored to participate in the first infographic workshop experience with the great Nigel Homes in RISD (Rhode Island School of Design).


SND is essential in my career; I’ll never forget the first Award of Excellence in the 16th edition. Competition coordinator (Kelly Frankeny) gave the certificates one-by-one and at the SND Workshop with President Deborah Withey in Barcelona, Spain. It was a memorable time in my life.

I couldn’t imagine that years later I would start as a director for Region 20 (Middle East and Africa.) Thanks to the collaboration of talented art directors, professionals and designers, SND 20 grows and flourishes as a promising region.

As a volunteer, SND made me leave my comfort zone and challenge myself. Before I was a mummy with a morbid shyness and suddenly I was invited to speak and share my ideas in conferences and workshops in the region, talk with other professionals, look for sponsors, find solutions and create ideas. All the challenges made me grow as a human being and discover a good part of myself and this is priceless.

SND 20 worked in partnership with other professional organizations such as WAN-IFRA, IAJ (Institute for the Advancement of Journalism) in conferences in Egypt, Johannesburg, Jordan, New Delhi and Dubai.

The workshop with Iraqi designers in Jordan, The Best of Middle East Competition, the SND Award Winners Exhibition and the regional conference are some of the high points in SND 20 region.


Commitment and honesty make part of my character, combined with a very big sense of justice. The fruit of my commitment is the three SND President’s Awards for the regional work in SND 20, that made me very honored.

The plan may seem ambitious but I will start working on it now, in case I am elected and work together with the officers Lee SteeleSara Quinn and Stephen Komives to attain all the best for the SND and our members.


Sara Quinn is running for secretary-treasurer of SND.
Sara Quinn is running for vice president of SND.

Sara Quinn

Sara Quinn teaches visual journalism, social media, writing forms, leadership and multimedia at the Poynter Institute. She leads the institute’s eyetracking research of newspaper, online and tablet reading habits to help journalists determine the best forms for storytelling. She has directed Poynter’s College Fellowship since 2003.

Before joining the faculty in 2003, Sara spent nearly 20 years working in newspaper newsrooms, including the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida and her hometown newspaper, The Wichita Eagle in Kansas.

For the Society for News Design, Sara has served as a regional director; coordinated auctions for the Kansas City and Washington, D.C. workshops; served as a juror for the print, digital and World’s Best competitions; and spoken at numerous Quick Courses and national workshops.

Sara teaches in-house workshops for newsrooms and universities around the world, most recently in Vienna, Madrid, Copenhagen, D.C. and Chicago. Earlier this year, she presented results of Poynter’s eyetracking research to a standing room only crowd at SXSW in Austin. Sara has edited and designed magazines, websites, books and newspapers. She has a B.A. from Wichita State University and a master’s in illustration from Syracuse University. She received Ball State’s Anthony Majeri Award for Leadership and Innovation in 2013.


Lee Steele is running for vice president of SND.
Lee Steele is running for president of SND.

Lee Steele

Lee has been that newsroom utility guy since the mid-1980s, taking any job that comes along. He has built his portfolio covering city hall, drawing editorial cartoons and charts, writing columns and features, copy editing stories, designing pages and blogging. He has also spoken before the Society of Professional Journalists and the College Media Association. Design editor for Hearst Newspapers in Connecticut, Lee oversees design for four daily and seven weekly newspapers, in addition to special publications and prototypes. He is also a part-time adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University teaching News Design.

Lee has a degree in Communications from Rowan University and studied art and humanities under the Wesleyan University graduate program.

The Society for News Design has always been a crucial resource for professionals in small- and mid-sized newsrooms, a fact that is not lost on Lee. Education is key, and SND is uniquely positioned to share information and insights from the industry’s best and brightest.

With SND: Lee was Region 1 director in 2009, soon after returning to newspapers after seven years designing at Conde Nast and Penton Media. In 2011, he was appointed training director, and then brought on the executive board as secretary-treasurer. He’s also blogged the World’s Best Competition for the past three years.

Going Forward: SND will remain the essential organization for designers at every stage in their careers: Training, education and networking. Celebrating our community of creative, talented visual journalists. And standing up for good design, compelling graphics and powerful visuals in an era that sees designer and photographers cast off by managers who see design (or even professional photography!) as a dispensable luxury item or some sort of frill. So we are not only striving to sharpen our own skills, we are educating others who want to know what good design is (and isn’t) and why it’s so important.

About Stephen Komives

Previously served as Executive Director of the Society for News Design, from 2009–2019.

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